Theme Park Insider

The 10 attractions at Disney and Universal that most need replacing

June 23, 2016, 4:33 PM · Yesterday in the evening round-up, I invited everyone to rate and review the theme park attractions they've visited over the past year, to help us determine the winners of this year's Theme Park Insider Awards. While we await the reveal of the winners, let's take a moment to throw the spotlight on the losers — some of the attractions that have sunk to the bottom of our readers ratings.

We'll start in Orlando. These are the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando attractions that Theme Park Insider readers collectively have selected as their picks for what ought to be replaced next in Central Florida's top theme parks. Granted, even the attractions at the bottom of our listings have some fans, so not everyone will agree that these places need to go. But it's hard to imagine that Disney and Universal couldn't do better with higher-rated attractions if it chose to give some other concepts a chance, instead.

The Magic Kingdom

Anytime we publish one of these "worst of" lists, it seems we always start with the same choice: Stitch's Great Escape. This overlay of the old Alien Encounter attraction (which was a refurb of the Magic Kingdom's Mission to Mars), loses points from Theme Park Insider readers for terrifying young Stitch fans while failing to entertain older visitors, who might be more inclined to enjoy Stitch's mischief. Not only that, but Lilo & Stitch is getting a bit old and doesn't seem to be enjoying the staying power of other Disney animation franchises.

TPI readers also vote thumbs down on the Tomorrowland Speedway. How telling it was when Disney announced the closure of the Walt Disney World Speedway, the old "Mickyard" in the MK parking lot, a lot of fans went online to express their excitement... only to turn around and end up even more disappointed when they learned that it wasn't the Tomorrowland kiddie cars that were closing.

Finally, we've got little love for The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, too. This Dumbo-like carnival spinner in Adventureland lacks the charm of the Fantasyland original, not to mention the more family-friendly wait system Dumbo now enjoys, too.

Epcot

Theme Park Insider fans would love to see a complete reimagining of Future World's Imagination Pavilion. Well, we think we would. Given what happened the first time that Disney tried to revamp a major attraction in this pavilion — the infamous Journey Into Your Imagination debacle — some of us might vote to keep what we have rather than take our chances on something turning out worse.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

We can't wait to see what Disney's got in store for us on Pandora: The World of Avatar next year. And Disney's been hitting its marks with its many recent improvements to this park. (We'll give the Jungle Book show a pass in the hopes that Rivers of Light really will debut sometime later this year.) But if Disney wanted to just acknowledge that Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama never worked and rip the thing out, we'd consider that a strong example of addition by subtraction to Animal Kingdom.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Whatever we would have nominated here, Disney's already closed. No more suggestions.

Universal Studios Florida

Universal's California park might be getting an attraction based on The Walking Dead next month, but Universal Studios Florida has an un-kill-able zombie attraction of its own. Seriously, how has Fear Factor Live not closed yet? The NBC reality series that inspired it is long gone, so there's no corporate synergy at play here. Plus, this would be the perfect site for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ministry of Magic, so let's just cast an Avada Kedavra at Fear Factor, shall we?

Our second choice for elimination at USF would be the Woody Woodpecker Kidzone. Yes, Universal Orlando is better with a strong, kid-focused land. But how much appeal do these franchises hold for today's children. As much as we love some of the stagecraft for the Barney show, this whole area needs a stronger theme. Hmmm, we hear that Universal has the theme park rights to Nintendo now....

Island of Adventure

Potter's already claimed so much of the old Lost Continent land, and with the Hogwarts Express chugging along next door, our readers say it's time to retire The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad. Maybe in favor of some Forbidden Forest attractions?

We can't wait to ride the newly retracked Incredible Hulk Coaster, but if Universal's committed to continuing its refurbishment of the Marvel Super Hero Island, we'd vote for Storm Force Accelatron as the next candidate for replacement. Followed by Doctor Doom's Fearfall. Universal set the bar so high with Spider-Man and Hulk that these two just suffer in comparison. Here's hoping that maybe someday they can be replaced by something that challenges Spidey and Hulk, instead.

Which Orlando-area attractions would you like to see up for replacement?

Replies (41)

June 23, 2016 at 4:46 PM · How did you leave out the horribly dated little mermaid Hollywood studios show and Ellen's energy adventure?
June 23, 2016 at 4:48 PM · I agree with everything except for Dr. Doom. Sure I just rode the same exact ride at La Ronde (seriously they are both S&S space shots) I really really love drop towers. Also for Epcot add Universe of Energy and Mission Space.
June 23, 2016 at 5:00 PM · Two thoughts on selections that I very much agree with: 1) I think that the ratio of Harry Potter attractions is perfect now and I would hate to see Universal Orlando turn into "Harry Potter Depot" and 2) Dr. Doom is the best! Sure the theming is sparse (I always use the express line anyway, so I've long forgotten the intended storyline), but I love the burst up into the air followed by the pull down every time.

Long live Fear Factor Live!! Seriously, I had not the first idea how this attraction is still standing. This to me is another example of addition by subtraction. Every time I walk by I'm like, "what even is back there? Oh yeah, never mind."

June 23, 2016 at 5:33 PM · Can they use Guardians of the Galaxy in Florida?
An attraction based on it would be a perfect replace for Stitch! They could use the same tricks used in Allien and Stitch.

Speedway would be the priority in my list of what need to go!!

June 23, 2016 at 5:40 PM · Epcot: Imagination, Energy, and The Land.
MK: Philharmonic, Laugh Factory, Stitch.
Animal Kingdom: Dinosaur, Dino-land, Bug's 3D.
Hollywood Studios: Muppets 4D (Sorry Robert)

Indiana Jones Adventure should replace Dinosaur.

June 23, 2016 at 6:17 PM · I think there could be a great Inside Out-style overly for the Imagination Pavilion. A lot of people don't like the idea of characters in Future World, but I think that would fit nicely.
June 23, 2016 at 7:23 PM · The Great Movie Ride could really use some updates, new scenes...maybe some
New projections like they placed on Indiana Jones!
June 23, 2016 at 7:30 PM · It's called PhilharMagic, not Philharmonic. And it's a great 3D movie, I definitely want it to stay. Ditto with It's Tough to be a Bug. As for Dinosaur, replacing it with an Indy ride makes no sense because Indy has nothing to do with animals.
An Indy ride should replace the long-in-the-tooth Indy show.
June 23, 2016 at 8:11 PM · Philharmagic is old and the film looks washed out. Bugs is gone from California Adventure so why should it remain at Disney World (same situation for Muppets).

Dinosaur is not popular and its relationship to animals is slight since it is extinct. Its no different than Avatar's Pandora's fantasy dragons. Indy features plenty of snakes, spiders, monkeys, and scorpions in its movies. They won't build a special attraction at DHS. A makeover is all it needs.

June 23, 2016 at 8:38 PM · Sorry but how is Terminator not on this list. It feels dated and cheesy to say the least.
June 23, 2016 at 8:38 PM · I think the Speedway has potential if it was made over for Tomorrowland and somehow connected to the future. I totally agree about Stitch, Imagination, and Chester and Hester. I'd add the Universe of Energy and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor to the mix. The former is out of date, and the latter is in the wrong park.
June 23, 2016 at 8:47 PM · The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade really doesn't need to expand anymore. Universal should keep the mix of having nonIPs and IPs by expanding the Lost Continent and retheming Marvel Superhero Island. Also worth noting are the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Tomorrowland Speedway and Buzz Lightyear at Magic Kingdom; Universe of Energy, Wonders of Life, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Circle of Life at Epcot, and Kali River Rapids, Wonders of Flight, and Dinoland U.S.A's carnival side, and It's Tough To Be A Bug at Animal Kingdom. And Anon Mouse, the Indy franchise isn't based around animals; they're usually placed as obstacles or help depending on Indy's situation.
June 23, 2016 at 9:13 PM · I love Dr. Doom. Remarkable three seconds zooming to the top. The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad stunt show is terrific. Totally agree that Stitch and Fear Factor need to go...
June 23, 2016 at 10:11 PM · Tomorrowland speedway takes up so much room! There could easily be an amazing E ticket attraction in its place.
June 23, 2016 at 10:50 PM · As I haven't been to Florida yet, my answer is don't remove anything. However, analyzing this from an outsider perspective, I'd say the following:

MK: Tomorrowland Speedway doesn't appear to have much purpose anymore and would clear up a lot of space to expand Fantasyland and/or Tomorrowland, so that is a prime candidate for removal. I'd also say that Stitch's Great Escape and the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor should go for attractions that better fit the idea of Tomorrowland. Magic Carpets of Aladdin can stay as it doesn't take up much space.

Epcot: Assuming Disney wants to infuse IP in this park instead of keeping it non-fiction, easy answer...tear out the current Imagination pavilion for an Inside Out attraction.

DHS: This one doesn't have an obvious choice, but with Indy 5 announced I'd go with MuppetVision 4D as the attraction to close. The show is already gone in California as it is based on a not popular IP and 4D movies in general just don't pull audiences anymore in a theme park setting.

DAK: Most would say Dinoland as a whole, but personally I'd choose Rafiki's Planet Watch here. Why? Well, Disney released their second biggest animated movie of all time this year and there couldn't be a more perfect set-up for getting it into a theme park.

USF: Obvious choice here...out with Woody Woodpecker, in with Nintendo.

IOA: I'm really split here between removing Lost Continent or Toon Lagoon. The latter has two excellent rides, but is based on very outdated cartoons and could really use an IP upgrade (Dreamworks?). The former probably makes more sense if you're going to bulldoze the area and start over, but not for more Harry Potter...USO is good on that right now, and I think USH shows that while Potter is still strong it isn't as strong as it used to be. The Marvel flats can stay as they are just flat rides.

June 23, 2016 at 11:17 PM · After finally viewing Sindbad last month, I agree that it should absolutely get re-worked. There was some good stuff in there, but it's really difficult to get through without rolling your eyes. Same for Fear Factor.

I'd really hate to see Imagination go, but surely an Inside Out attraction would help continuously dwindling popularity. Might I suggest Epcot do away with the sucky Short Film Festival playing in the Imagination theatre?

June 24, 2016 at 12:10 AM · Now that Shanghai is done, let's see some new stuff at WDW! Speedway and Stitch must go! The amount of space the speedway takes up is egregious, and closing it wouldn't adversely affect the flow of the park.

Nintendo can get its feet wet anywhere in UOR, but I'd like to see them save the big guns (Mario) for that third gate.

Speaking of new parks, has anyone heard anything recently about Universal Studios Beijing? My wife is keen on moving us there, and I need SOMETHING positive to make me not cry. If I could be an AP holder at UBR (?), it could almost make the smog bearable.

June 24, 2016 at 2:27 AM · cant disagree with any of it apart from dr doom when u drive upto universal its the thing u see from afar i think it just wants updating maybe last a bit longer than go up and down once
June 24, 2016 at 2:47 AM · Epcot: The whole of future world is a mess. It needs a new theme.
MK:Tomorrowland Speedway could be used for so much more. How about giving Mickey, Donald, Goofy and the gang their homes back?
DHS: All the shows have a huge beard. Replace Beauty, Little and Indie with great new shows. And put the Great back into the Great Movie Ride with updates.
AK: Fun Spot America should leave the park. Expanding the rapids would make it a ride. Expand the train throughout the parks, it has great scenery. Rafiki needs to be worth a stop.
USF: Fear Factor Live should be put out of it's misery. The nighttime show should be pimped or leave. Daytime parade should expand. Kids Zone replaced.
IOA: I love the theming of Lost Continent but don't like the "rides". I hate the theming of Toon Lagoon but like the rides, a makeover is needed. Put new logs (like the ones at Splash Mountain) in Ripsaw Falls.
June 24, 2016 at 3:24 AM · Bugs is gone in DCA???
June 24, 2016 at 4:27 AM · Redo Epcot's Universe of Energy with the same "time machine" story, going from the Big Bang to today without forgetting the dinosaurs, but with a Pirates Shanghai style makeover... OK, just dreaming...
June 24, 2016 at 4:47 AM · Forget Dinland USA, the entire land is one of the most complete theme park lands anywhere. 2 Quick service, Snack location, an amazing e-ticket with a unique WDW ride system (I'm also a huge Indiana Jones Adventure fan), a thrill ride, kids spinner, kids play area, and a midway. The Land Pavilion and tomorrowland are the only other two lands that come close.

Anyone ever been to Rifikis Planet Watch? I didn't think so; that's what needs to be destroyed and completely overhauled.

Great movie ride at DHS.

Every country in Epcot needs an attraction (imo); even if that means cutting down the total number of countries.

In IOA lost continent needs the destruction and a LOTR (or similar) overlay. This is way before taking apart marvel (and dealing with all of the Disney negations that would entail).

The rest I can get behind...

June 24, 2016 at 6:55 AM · Kali River Rapids absolutely must be replaced with an attraction at least as good as Grizzly River Rapids in California.

Epcot has too many outdated attractions. Replace them with attractions currently exclusive to Disney's parks in Japan, China and France. 99% of Disney's American fans will never visit the overseas parks.

Add Indiana Jones Adventure to Hollywood Studios.

Keep Philharmagic. Keep Toon Lagoon. Keep "It's Tough to be a Bug". Keep Muppets 4D. These attractions are still popular. If the films are getting old, remastering them is much cheaper than replacing them.

Give visitors the option of viewing "Soarin' Over California", instead of "Soarin' Around the World".

Universal should improve Dr. Doom's Freefall and replace unpopular attractions with newer attractions targeted at younger kids. Universal already has better thrill rides than Disney. Universal should build more attractions like Secret Life of Pets to challenge Disney's dominance of the under 10 market segment.

June 24, 2016 at 7:08 AM · What about Poseidon's fury or whatever its called? and how is shrek 4d not on this list.
June 24, 2016 at 7:48 AM · The whole of Future World in EPCOT needs work. Bring back the educational, uplifting, and ambitious rides!
June 24, 2016 at 9:42 AM · I know this is East Coast focused, but we out here at Disneyland have been surveyed by Disney repeatedly for what needs refurbishment the most. The winner is always Tomorrowland. It is truly the worst - from the old 70's mall styled queue at Space Mountain to the 3 floors of nothing that is the Innoventions building, to the decades abandoned People Mover track. What was Disney's answer? They went cheap - turned Innoventions into a Star Wars gift shop, meet and greet, and turned the lights down even lower and swapped out the soundtrack in Space Mountain. After blowing $5 billion on Shanghai, I think Disney could have floated some of that money to at least demolishing the People Mover track, Innoventions bldg and improving the Space Mountain queue -taking it from Yesterland to Tomorrowland. One more for the West Coast - USH - please get rid of WaterWorld - that shouldn't even have to be said. And start building Diagon Alley, the WWoHP needs more than 2 rides. Thank you! Sorry to crash the East Coast party :)
June 24, 2016 at 10:39 AM · Folks keep mentioning Universe of Energy and agree an Ellen-less update would be nice. However, I think its continued popularity is less due to content and more on how, on a hot summer day, some folks enjoy a place they can sit for 40 minutes in the cool and some light entertainment. An update would be good, more of today's energy needs but keep the cool dinos, the kids always love those and still a good long attraction to enjoy.
June 24, 2016 at 10:42 AM · AJ called it on Animal Kingdom. If any park is perfect for a "Zootopia" attraction, that is it. Maybe a take-off of the Potter ride where the train has screens showing the Zootopia world with all the environments? And the "Planet Watch" camp can be redone to show some of the real animals inspiring the movie and animal care stuff but still entertaining for the film.
June 24, 2016 at 10:55 AM · Speedway is still popular with kids. Little boys love the first time they can push the gas and steer all on their own. Would be nice to update ad be electrical rather than gas powered, but it does fill a need for young boys.
June 24, 2016 at 10:57 AM · PhilharMagic is one of my favorite attractions at Magic Kingdom, and any Disney Park. I find the scenes enchanting and the visuals are as crisp as any I've seen in other attractions. I could not disagree more with Anon Mouse about PhilharMagic as it consistently is one of my favorite experiences at any theme park. As for the speedway, I agree it should go as should Dino-Land at Animal Kingdom.
June 24, 2016 at 11:43 AM · It was breaking news to me that Fear Factor still existed at USF! I'm assuming they're just fresh out of bulldozers with the rest of the construction going on there.

Stitch the attraction absolutely needs to go, though I'd question the notion that Lilo & Stitch is lacking staying power. It's anecdotal, but walking around my office, there's no Disney character that appears more on my millennial colleagues' desks. I'd imagine that love of Stitch will be passed down to kids, nieces, nephews, etc.

Laugh Floor would be my second choice at WDW. So much unrealized potential in Tomorrowland.

Also, count me in the "Not willing to roll the dice on Imagination again" camp.

The one thing I would absolutely remove from IOA -- the Pteranodon Flyers -- probably can't be replaced without losing the excellent Camp Jurassic below.

June 24, 2016 at 2:32 PM · With the new Fantastic Beasts franchise begining late this year and a high probability of doing well at box office world wide, Universal may already be planning an attraction for it, as they are doing for The Secret Life of Pets.
June 25, 2016 at 8:58 AM · At Magic Kingdom = Tomorrowland

At EPCOT = most of the buildings don't seem interesting and only the World Showcase is good. But WS needs more things to do. Would love to see the Ratatouille ride for France and a Mulan ride for China. Would love an Alice or Mary Poppins ride in England too. Every country should have a ride.

Animal Kingdom = Rafiki's Planet Watch should be taken out and they should make Zootopia there. I love the idea of the train showing the scenery of Zootopia and when you get up there you are "in" Zootopia. That would be neat. Could build Little Rodenta and have animatronic critters and some other zone with the cool buildings and have lots of opportunity for costume characters walking around. Would be amazing.

DHS = Would love a Mystic Manor type ride set in old Hollywood. Like Sunset Boulevard with an old star and some kind of magic going on. Something to complement Tower of Terror and be a haunted mansion equivalent to DHS that would bring a horror/spooky area to represent those genres of movies.

June 25, 2016 at 9:15 AM · 73.134.195.63 is right: Speedway is popular with kids. My son had such a great time when he did it. But now that is has grown up, he's more into roller coaster, Mission: Space, Test Track, Star Tours or even classics like Haunted Mansion. But Disney needs rides for all ages even ones focused on a certain age range. Still, a makeover of Speedway with electric vehicles will allow a sustainable message (Disney loves that type of message) and also will avoid the annoying sound of the motors as well as the gasoline odor... Could be done trackless with a safe system keeping automatically the vehicle within a given track. Technology for that already exists.
June 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM · Right on in every part. Let's get rid of The Imagination pavilion in Epcot and build Tron Light Cycles themed around computer science. Let's also open Wonders of Life with an Inside Out overlay.
June 25, 2016 at 10:24 AM · For parents with kids who love the Tomorrowland Speedway... allow me to suggest a visit down I-4 to Legoland Florida and its infinitely superior Driving School. If your kids love fake-driving cars at WDW, they'll be over the moon actually driving cars at Legoland.
June 25, 2016 at 3:13 PM · Disney rides have become old fashioned. When they first were introduced, they were state-or-the-art. Futuristic! But after years, they become good-old rides. After many years, they're ancient. When Exxon stopped sponsoring the Universe of Energy, it should have been scrapped. Stitch is good, but... The Great Movie Ride is good, but it doesn't hold my attention. Tough to be a bug is still new enough to be good. DL is good, but has outgrown it's venue. Maybe a new Disney Complex could replace the West Coast park.
June 25, 2016 at 3:18 PM · What I'd like to change is cutting back on the shopping. Not cutting it out, just cutting the over-abundance of shopping. The MK doesn't even have a Magic shop any more. But main street isn't the only shopping area, every land has a huge number of shops. HS is covered with shops... And now, DS (Disney Springs) is full of shops. OK, I like buying stuff. How about a shop for Made in America? They said that the American Adventure stuff is all made in the USA. I pointed out that some books are "printed in China", but are listed as published by Prentice Hall. "Published by..." and "Printed in..." aren't the same. I'm not impressed. I couldn't find a single Trading Pin made in the US. These things can't be costing Disney more than a dollar to make and sell for $8-15 each.
June 26, 2016 at 6:54 AM · Bring back the old test track OR make it into the Cars ride that California enjoys.
June 27, 2016 at 9:47 AM · Shrek 4d needs to go bye bye. The next one while I wouldn't get rid of it, an overhaul is in order:Rock n Roller coaster with Aerosmith.... Either overhaul it to be about the rock genre as a whole or find a new band that is still relevant... More so than Aerosmith that is.
June 27, 2016 at 11:29 AM · While I love the opportunity to play Theme Park Mogul, it seems that personal preference will always dictate whether you want an old favorite (in my case, original Future World, Magic Carpets, and Countdown To Extinction) or a pie-in-the-sky, money's-no-object reimagining. Yes, I'd love every EPCOT pavilion to have its own attraction. But how about merely utilizing every abandoned/forgotten building that's already there? Please, invest in a permanent solution (not demolition) for the long vacant Wonders Of Life building. Do something worthwhile at the Innoventions buildings. Laugh Floor? Might as well be a lounge for hot and thirsty guests. Create something that exists for some reason beyond selling tie-in merchandise and keeping IPs on life support until the next sequel.

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